Week 11 Game Review - Arizona Cardinals v. Houston Texans
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Another game decided late in the 4th quarter for Houston. A game that was dominated by the Houston offense for 2.5 quarters. The final score doesn’t quite match the win probability chart this week.
This match was definitely the tale of two halves. In the first half Houston had put together a dominating performance with 333 net yards of offense despite three red zone errors. Only to follow that up with a second half performance of 86 net yards off offense. The big interception return by Arizona contributed to this low number.
Stroud’s clean pocket availability continued with a 72.5% clean pocket rate against Arizona per PFF charting. I will say there were some tighter pockets for Stroud, leading me to the believe that clean pocket rate is a bit higher than what the eye test came back with for me.
Another big day for both Devin Singletary and Tank Dell.
Singletary finished the day with 112 yards rushing on 22 attempts (5.1 yards per carry) with a 31.8% success rate, including 1 touchdown. Two very productive weeks in a row for Singletary, including a beautiful suplex style block in the 4th quarter.
Will Anderson had a sack! Anderson did more than just a sack, he had a strong performance. Finishing the day with 1 sack, 7 quarterback pressures, 2 run stops, and showed up on the tape forcing plays to his teammates.
Tank Dell finished with another stellar performance with 8 receptions on 10 targets for 149 yards receiving including 1 touchdown. Houston continues to find ways to provide Dell space on the boundary. Dell’s footwork was fantastic putting defensive backs on their heels.
C.J. Stroud had a strong first half performance with a few mistakes during the second half finishing the day with 336 yards passing on 27 for 37 attempts, 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Stroud’s confidence, while I love it, sometimes can get the better of him. Despite that thought, keep firing it, and the explosive plays will continue to happen.
Houston’s defense had their work cut out for them with a light linebacker core stemming from injuries and suspension. This forced Houston to work out of their nickel (5 defensive back) groupings most of the day. Schemes were 73% zone looks and 26% man looks per NGS tracking data, with more Cover 3 and Cover 4 looks instead of the Cover 6 seen the past few weeks. The return of Derek Stingley has allowed the defense to become a bit more aggressive, this week with a blitz rate of 31%.
Houston’s defense generated a pressure rate of 34% per PFF charting. Multiple times Demeco dialed up pressure via linebacker blitzes, defensive back blitzes, and Cover 0 type blitz packages. This limited Kyler Murray to only 214 yards passing.
No specific theme this week. Just plays I found interesting for one reason or another. (Quarter and time of game included in the video) I’ll avoid the Pitre videos, they are not pretty.
Houston working in 11 personnel (Brevin Jordan lined up an inline tight end) with Stroud in shotgun flanked by Singletary. Dell works a faux orbit motion behind Stroud. Woods and Collins are on the boundaries opposite of each other. Inside power run with a pulling guard, and Singletary’s patience pays off. Also love how Singletary can get skinny running between plays, that is a difficult trait for a runningback. Brevin Jordan blocking at the second level…get used to that because he is getting very good at it.
I normally wouldn’t show the endzone angle on a passing play but this view will specifically highlight Stroud’s confidence in the pocket. Earlier in the season Stroud may have rolled out to avoid, but has gained the confidence to step up as the offensive line creates depth in the pocket. Houston is in 11 personnel with Schultz as the inline tight end. Collins on the boundary left and Tank Dell on the boundary right, Woods in the tight slot creating a 2x2 receiving formation. Houston goes with a 6 man protection keeping Schultz in for blocking. Collins will run a clear out go route up the seam from the left, and Dell with the deep crosser. A staple 2 man yankee route we’ve see Houston use time and time again with success.
I forgot I saved the side angle view, so here ya go!
Houston’s first touchdown below:
Feel like we’ve seen this play design before. 3x2 formation out of the 11 personnel with Schultz to the short side of the field. Arizona brings a 6 man blitz, and the protection holds up just long enough. Stroud with his classic anticipation throw on a bang 8 route. The single high safety gives Dell all the attention leaving Schultz one on one with a cornerback. The outside leverage allows Schultz an easy in-break for the slide in touchdown.
Will Anderson sack video! To give credit, this is just as much a coverage sack as it is Anderson’s continued motor to get to the quarterback (through 3 players). Houston working in their nickel package with split safety going with a Quarters/Cover 4 look with Cashman sliding back up the seam working the trips side of the field. Beautiful coverage allows time for Anderson to shed his blocker and work back inside for the sack.
Screen plays are either “what are you calling that for!?!?” or “That was the perfect play call!” with nothing in between. This time the execution was near perfect with Schultz, Woods, Fant, and Mason out in space. 4 blockers for 4 defenders is a recipe for success on screen plays. 22 easy yards for Steven Sims.
A well executed inside power run is always fun to watch. If Brevin Jordan and John Metchie are on the field, there will be running lanes. Houston is in their 12 personnel with Jordan and Schultz on the line with Metchie tight to the right. Deiter and Mason duo the nose tackle, Fant secures the 3 technique as Jordan and Metchie work the second level. Schultz walls off the defensive end creating the running lane. Beautiful timing with Mason working to the second level coupled with Singletary’s footwork making two players miss for the touchdown. Pump this into my veins!
Derek Stingley is back!! Earlier I mentioned the return of Stingley allows Houston to change of their coverage looks. Here Houston is in a split safety with man press to Stingley’s side. As the ball is throw Stingley remains in the receiver’s back pocket and the slightly under thrown ball allows Stingley the interception opportunity.
I wanted to show this play to showcase Stroud’s ability to process and work throw the progression reads. Houston is in 21 personnel with Beck in motion to the flat. Stroud’s progression is left to right. The offensive line provides excellent protection giving Stroud time to work through the reads to get to the 3rd read with Tank Dell on the deep in route across the field.
The filthy route of the day goes to Tank Dell. Houston in 12 personnel with an even 2x2 formation with Singletary single back. Houston keeps Jordan and Schultz in for a 7 man protection leaving only a 2 man deployment route. Woods and Dell run near identical routes, both with 15 yard dig routes. The route from Dell is wild with a shoulder fake to the boundary followed up the hard stop for the dig, had the cornerback in shambles.
I posted (tweeted?) about this play right after it happened. Houston used a rare 3 defensive linemen look with Sheldon Ranks as a 0 technique over the center. Anderson will crash down the right side of the offensive line for a Cashman loop around stunt. Jerry Hughes does the exact same thing crashing down for a Harris stunt around the edge. Houston back end goes Cover 1 man and the coverage does the job giving Cashman time for the sack. After asking around it sounds like this a play call from the Belichek playbook. Cool play design.
We’ve all seen the NFL video of Dell calling for the shot here. Classic back yard I’m going deep, I’ll beat my guy, throw the ball and I’ll go get it. 11 personnel, 6 man protection, Stroud works the pocket. No notes.
The play that Stroud returns after missing one snap after a big hit on a sack. Stroud’s determination to get a first down is clearly evident here. Houston starts with a 7 man protection with two chippers, and Stroud clearly has two under routes open. Knowing the distance to the sticks Stroud elects to wait for Dell’s late out route to open for the first down.
Defensive tape the rest of the way!
Wanted to give some viewership on rookie Dylan Horton. Horton’s playing time is still limited but from time to time he flashes on the tape. Here Horton works the edge avoiding the pulling guard for a nice run stop.
Houston in a Cover 4 look with Nelson in press at the bottom of the screen. Watch Stingley at the top of the screen run the perfect trail technique with a crossover at the top of the route to gain the inside hand to break up the pass. Stingley just makes it look so easy sometimes. Khalil Davis pressure from the interior forces Murray out of the pocket to throw off platform.
The next three plays are inside the 2 minute warning mark with the defense closing the door on this game.
If you read my work you’ll know I love linebackers who can read, diagnose, and attack. Christian Harris, who has flipped the switch the past few weeks, demonstrates that saying perfectly. Harris identifies the flat running back, diagnoses the pass from Murray, and attacks the receiver.
The last two plays Demeco Ryans dials up the heat on Arizona with 6 and 7 man blitz packages forcing Murray to get rid of the ball before the plays can develop. As I mentioned earlier (twice actually, having Stingley and Nelson on the field gives Ryans the confidence to call these types of plays.
A huge win at home with an even bigger game ahead with the Jaguars. Houston has the tie breaker with Jacksonville, meaning a win would give Houston the division lead with a clear path to the playoffs. Exciting times ahead.
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